Fudai genin (low-ranked people in the hereditary succession) (譜代下人)

Fudai genin were also called Fudai hokonin (servant and hereditary vassal) and meant genin (servants who served their masters as slaves) and hokonin (a servant) who were in personal slavery and served their master by providing roeki (labor service) as Fudai permanently and patrimonially in the agricultural community of modern times.

Fudai genin were called Keho, Monya, Niwako and Uchibyakusho depending on region. Moreover, the level of subordination was also different and it was noted in "Jikata Hanreiroku" (a guide to regional governance) that there were various forms, for example, people who lived with their wives, people who were de facto kosakunin (a tenant farmer) given land by their masters, people who were forced to live in their masters' houses and cultivated fields under orders from their masters and so on.

It is considered that the origin was successors of traditional genin since the Medieval period and reisaimin (people who lived from hand to mouth) captured by human trafficking at the time of disorder from the Sengoku period (period of warring states) to the early Edo period. In the Sengoku period, humans were trafficked due to habit of ranbodori (pillage by soldiers after battles) but the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) prohibited human trafficking. However, enslavement due to human trafficking was widely spread in rural areas since management of agricultural village society was unstable at that time and peasant folk who were not able to manage farms and hon-byakusho (peasants) who were annoyed with lack of labor shared a mutual interest.

As regulation of human trafficking was reinforced, shichiken hokonin (a servant put in pledge) appeared as a way to circumvent the regulation. The principal amount (borrowing amount) written on the pledge bill was equivalent to the servant's value and the interest of the debt was equivalent to servant's labor during the debt period, and the servant was bounded by his master i.e. creditor until he as debtor wiped off the principle amount, but in fact it was fudai genin by de facto human trafficking under the name of pledge.

Due to the stabilization of the farm management after the middle of the Edo period, the fudai genin or shichiken hokonin turned out to be nenki hokonin (apprentices) in advanced agricultural areas, however, in developing areas, such fudai hokonin existed till the end of Edo period. Bakufu and domains officially prohibited human trafficking but in fact overlooked the existence of fudai genin since they wanted to give priority to stabilization of land tax collection caused by stability of farm management.

An old custom, Fudai genin (in other words, Keho) ended in the Meiji period since the release of social status and the prohibition of naming were issued in an ordinance in 1872.

[Original Japanese]